US: A level field
Posted: October 24th, 2009 - 3:43pm
Source: New York Times
Many people think of agriculture as a tradition-bound occupation. It is far more like information technology, as high-tech companies genetically engineer seeds and a few powerful companies strive to dominate the market. Following a decade of unchecked consolidation, it is time for the Justice Department to take a hard look at potentially anticompetitive behavior.
The editorial says Monsanto is trying to block DuPont from adding its own genetic traits to Monsanto’s Roundup Ready technology to produce soybeans that would be resistant to multiple pesticides.
Earlier this year, Monsanto sued DuPont for patent infringement. In response, DuPont accused Monsanto of hindering innovation through restrictive licensing agreements. It also charges that Monsanto is pre-empting competition from generic makers by threatening to revoke seed companies’ licenses if they don’t switch to a new version before Monsanto’s patent expires in 2014.
Monsanto denies the allegations. It says that it regularly allows other companies to stack their genetic traits onto its own and that DuPont could have signed such a license. It also says that farmers are switching to the new anti-Roundup technology because it improves yields.
The editorial says we don’t know who is right, but we do know that these charges need to be fully investigated.